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Boiling River Hot Springs – Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park


Large hot springs perfect for a relaxing soak in a great riverside environment


2/3 of a mile one way

Parking Lot Elevation


Summit Elevation


Elevation Gain/Loss

60 feet total gain

Time Required

1-3 hours




Yellowstone entrance fee

Water Info

Bring plenty of water to drink since hot springs can dehydrate you

Best Season

Summer, Fall, Winter. The springs are closed due to high water in the spring.


5 AM to 9 PM. These hours are strictly enforced.

Sun Exposure

No shade

Trail Condition

Very easy graded trail


At trail head

Visitor Center





In nearby Gardiner, or Mammoth Hot Springs

Trail Map

Driving Directions

The Trail:

Boiling River is an awesome thermal feature in Yellowstone. Its the only easily accessible hot spring in the park that you can swim in. There are a few others if you want to backpack. This does make it a very popular and crowded trail. The trail head is located between Mammoth Hot Springs, and Gardiner, Montana. It is well signed. The parking lot is fairly small so its best to get an early start. We went in late fall and the cold early morning air made the hot springs feel amazing. I have been to a lot of hot springs through the years and these are my favorite. There are hours from 5 AM to 9 PM. These are strictly enforced and you will get a ticket. It is very easy for the rangers to look down from the road and see people in the springs. This is a very easy almost totally flat trail that almost anyone could do. There are no changing rooms so I recommend discretely changing in your car before making the hike. There is a small outhouse available if that is your thing. The trail starts next to the large trail head sign.


The trail gives nice views of the surrounding hills and follows the Gardner River its entire length.

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The path is wide and easy and you will quickly see the steam from the springs approaching.


As you get closer you will see the feed stream that is the reason it is called Boiling River.


You can probably see bathers in the water at this point.


You will also see the spot where the water comes out of the ground. They do not know for sure but believe the water comes from the higher up Mammoth Hot Springs.


Finally you will come to the bathing area. Be sure to read the rules to keep yourself out of trouble.


I HIGHLY suggest wearing some sort of shoe. I had bare feet and it was very hard to safely walk around the river rocks with bare feet. I ended up slipping and gashing my leg open. The area is so great because the hot water from the spring mixes with the cold water of the river making for very pleasant bathing temps. It make take a few minutes to find a spot that is just right for what you like. The water coming from the springs changes slightly from minute to minute giving nice hot and cold flashes. Be careful not to be too close to the inlet because the water can be more than 130 degrees! There are several areas to soak where people have made small rock dams. Please be respectful of others and don’t sit right on top of them. (this happened to me and it was hard to remain friendly because they were so rude and disrespectful)

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The large amount of water coming from the springs is beautiful for pictures!

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The Return:

After staying as long as you enjoy you will return the way you came.

Personal Thoughts:

Like I said this is my favorite hot spring experience. The water felt so nice with the cool weather that we stayed for two hours and my wife who doesn’t usually like hot springs was begging to return the next day. If you can live with the crowds (which can be avoided by going early) then this is an amazing place to visit. Just be sure to keep an eye on children in the sometimes swift river currents and make sure they stay away from the inlet water.

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The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

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About The Author
I love adventure! I live in Cache Valley, Utah. Do you have questions on any of my Treks? Email me @ joshua.oyler@gmail.com

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2 Comments on "Boiling River Hot Springs – Yellowstone National Park"

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The Boiling River is one of our favorite things to do after a hike or ski (or before) in Yellowstone. In fact, our Christmas Eve tradition is to soak in the Boiling River and ski around the Upper Terraces. The nice part about going in winter is that there are way fewer people than in summer, but getting in and out is interesting :). When our kids were little, we’d put a life jacket on them and let them float in the river while we hung on to their jackets.